Daniel Schooler took the witness stand Wednesday afternoon in his own defense. He was accused in the shooting death of his brother, William, a pastor at a Dayton church. MARK GOKAVI/STAFF

Dayton man guilty in shooting death of brother in church office

Daniel Schooler told a jury Wednesday that he was afraid on Feb. 28, 2016, when he shot and killed his brother Rev. William Schooler at the church their family founded.

Daniel Schooler said he shot his brother in self defense after William Schooler reached toward him when both were in a closed church office. The jury didn’t believe him.

A Montgomery County Common Pleas Court jury took an hour and a half to find the 69-year-old guilty of murder and other counts related to the death of his 70-year-old brother.

The defendant testified during his murder trial that he only went to St. Peters Missionary Baptist Church in Dayton to discuss a new lawsuit about what he said was his rightful inheritance.

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Daniel was convicted of purposeful murder, but found not guilty of aggravated murder with prior calculation and design. He also was found guilty of felonious assault. Multiple charges included firearm specifications.

The defendant also faces weapons under disability charges and a possible violent offender specification due to two first- or second-degree violent felony convictions in the past 20 years. Judge Steven Dankof will rule on those counts later.

The jury got the case at 4:50 p.m. Wednesday and returned a verdict at 6:20 p.m. Dankof scheduled sentencing for June 28. The defendant’s sentence will be at least 18 years to life and could be as much as 31 years to life.

“We are very pleased with the verdict,” Montgomery County assistant prosecutor Lynda Dodd said. “The defendant has been held accountable for the murder of his brother. He will get a life sentence and spend the balance of his life in prison.”

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Daniel testified that he went to the church and followed his brother to an office after a prayer and as the choir sang.

“He raised up out of his chair, reached toward me and I backed to the door,” Daniel said, his voice cracking. “I was afraid.”

Daniel said he always carried a gun because he’d been robbed several times and that he’s older. In his brother’s officer, Daniel said he felt trapped.

“The pistol I had in my pocket I fired twice,” he said. “(William) continued to reach toward me, so I fired again.”

RELATED: Inheritance, mental health drove wedge between brothers

Dodd told jurors during closing arguments that the angle and location of the bullets, where William was found and witness testimony contradicted Daniel’s story.

“What the defendant tells you happened, can’t have happened under the evidence,” Dodd said. “(Williams) was crumpled under the desk. They had to move the desk to get to his body.”

Defense attorney Jay Carter said his client met the burden of proving self defense. Dodd disagreed, saying that Daniel created the situation that led to the shooting and he didn’t face imminent death or great bodily harm.

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“There was no evidence, not one word of evidence that this defendant thought his life was in danger,” Dodd said. “His self defense has to fail based upon that and that alone.”

Dodd invoked “almost the oldest story in the book,” — the tale of Cain and Abel, sons of Adam and Eve — which ended with one son killing the other due to jealousy.

“He sat before he did it where his mother used to sit and then he went and killed his brother in his father’s church,” Dodd said. “He was sending a message.”

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